"You have the sun, you have the moon, you have the air that you breathe - and
you have the Rolling Stones!" Keith Richards.
Probably the greatest rhythm guitarist in rock & roll, Keith Richards is widely
recognized as a hard-living guitarist for the legendary rock band The Rolling
Stones (1960s-now). Alongside the band's co-founder Mick Jagger, Richards has
been regarded as one of the greatest songwriting teams in the history of rock.
They have penned a number of smash hits for The Rolling Stones, including "(I
Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (1965), "Get Off of My Cloud" (1965), "Paint It,
Black" (1966), "Honky Tonk Women" (1969), "Brown Sugar" (1971), "Angie" (1973)
and "Miss You" (1978). He also has gone solo and released two studio albums:
Talk is Cheap (1988) and Main Offender (1992). He will also branch out in film
and have a cameo role in the third installment of the swashbuckling movie
Pirates of the Caribbean, as the father of Johnny Depp's Capt. Jack Sparrow.
The British veteran guitarist, whose near-miraculous talent and phenomenal
consumption of drugs and alcohol has been well documented, was elected to the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 (as a member of the Rolling Stones). He was
also voted the 10th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine.
Childhood and Family:
In Dartford, Kent, on the southern outskirts of London, Keith Richards was born
on December 18, 1943, at the Livingstone Hospital. He is the only child of
parents Bert, former electrical engineer and factory laborer, and Doris, who
once demonstrated washing machines at the Dartford Co-op in England. His
paternal grandparents were socialists and civic leaders while his maternal
grandfather, Augustus Theodore Dupree, toured Britain as a jazz/big band
musician. Born during the World War II and lived through German V-weapon attacks
on the city, infant Keith and his family was forced to evacuate from their home
during the Nazi bombing in 1944. When Keith was in college, his parents
divorced, and he began estranged from his father until 1982.
Keith Richards, nicknamed Keef Riffhard or The Human Riff went to Westhill
Infant's School and Wentworth County Primary School before attending Wilmington
Grammar School for Boys. Because of his behavior problems, Keith then was
expelled from school in 1959. The headmaster, who thought that Keith will be fit
as an artist, suggested him to studied at Sidcup Art School.
Since the late 1960s, Richards had lived together with for about 12 years with
bandmate Brian Jones' former girlfriend, model/actress Anita Pallenberg. They
have three children: son Marlon (born in 1968), daughter Angela (born in 1972)
and son Tara, who died suddenly just three weeks after birth (the official cause
was SIDS). After breaking up with Pallenberg in 1979, Richards officially
married Patti Hansen in December 1983. They have two daughters together:
Theodora and Alexandra.
The Human Riff
"You don't start to play your guitar thinking you're going to be running an
organization that will maybe generate millions." Keith Richards.
While attending primary school in 1951, Keith Richards first encountered and
befriended with future Rolling Stones bandmate Mick Jagger. But three years
later, they split up because they moved to different schools. Meanwhile,
Richards, a huge fan of Roy Rogers, had already become attracted into music and
once sang in a choir that performed for the Queen. The music beckoned then eyed
American rock & roll and began learning to play guitar, with the early
supervision from his musician grandfather.
At Sidcup Art School Richards met future Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor,
who was joining a blues band with Jagger at that time. Subsequently, Richards
and Jagger resumed their friendship and Richards joined Jagger’s band not long
afterward. The band later transformed into the Rolling Stones and officially
made their first on-stage performance in the summer of 1962.
Richards and Jagger has written original material for a number of hits of the
Rolling Stones during 1964-1965, including "Tell Me" (#24 US), "Heart of Stone"
(#19 US) and "The Last Time" (#1 UK; #9 US). And after spending some time to
develop themselves into professional-quality songwriters, they managed to
produce the band’s first massive hit, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Released
in May 1965 in the United States, the single actually established the band,
peaking at #1 worldwide. The song was featured on the American version of The
Rolling Stones fourth US album (third album in the UK), Out of Our Heads,
released in July of the same year. The next years, Richards and Jagger has
became a great songwriter team, penned such #1 hits as "Get Off of My Cloud"
(1965), "Paint It, Black" (1966) and "Honky Tonk Women" (1969).
Now achieving rock superstar status, the Rolling Stones gained much public
attention. Richards, as a member of the supergroup, suffered his first drug bust
in 1967 and sentenced to a year in prison. Ten years later in early 1977,
Richards faced the most serious charges of his life when he was caught in
possession of heroin in Toronto. But he managed to escape from serving jail time
after he agreed to perform at an charity concert for the blind and enter drug
rehabilitation in the US. Meanwhile, he kept writing songs alongside Jagger and
spawned such hits as "Brown Sugar" (1971), "Tumbling Dice" (1972), "Angie"
(1973), "Miss You" (1978) and "Start Me Up" (1981).
On October 3, 1988, Richards released his debut solo album, Talk Is Cheap.
Richards wrote all the song with Steve Jordan, who had worked for The Rolling
Stones' 1986 album, Dirty Work. It spawned the minor hit single and MTV favorite
"Take It So Hard." The album, released under Virgin records, earned glowing
reviews upon its release. It peaked at #37 in the UK and #24 in the US, where it
went gold. Richards then got on a supporting tour which led to the production of
the concert album, Live at the Hollywood Palladium, released on December 10,
1991 in the US and February 24, 1992 in the UK. Although it failed to chart, the
album received good critic and became a fan favorite for Richards devotees.
During that time, Richards reteamed with Jagger to write The Rolling Stones’
songs "Mixed Emotions" (1989), "Rock and a Hard Place" (1989) and "Highwire"
Richards released his second solo studio album, Main Offender, on October 19,
1992, in between The Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels and Voodoo Lounge projects. To
date, Main Offender remains Richards' most recent offering as a solo artist. In
this album, Richards reteamed with Steve Jordan in writing songs, adding Waddy
Watchel to the mix both in composing and producing. Main Offender garnered
another positive review, but failed to match the commercial success of Talk is
Cheap. It only climbed to #45 in the UK and #99 in the US. Since then, Richards
returned to recording exclusively with The Rolling Stones and put his solo
career on an indefinite hiatus.
By this time, Richards and Jagger has written songs for The Rolling Stones, like
"Love Is Strong" (1994), "Out of Tears" (1994), "Saint of Me" (1998) and "Don't
Stop" (2002, UK). Since the new millennium, The Rolling Stones has added 4
albums to their discography: double compilation album Forty Licks (30 September
2002; UK #2; US #2; 4x Platinum), double live album Live Licks (1 November 2004;
UK #38; US #50; Gold), A Bigger Bang (5 September 2005; UK #2; US #3; Platinum),
and compilation album Rarities 1971-2003 (21 November 2005; UK #133; US #76).
On August 21, 2005, The Rolling Stones opened A Bigger Bang tour, which had made
a record-shattering $162 million by the end of 2005. On February 1, 2006, they
made their first concert at the Baltimore Arena since 1969. They also performed
to the biggest audience of their career on February 18, 2006, when they played a
free concert on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro Brazil, in front of an
estimated 1,500,000 audiences.
More recently, The Rolling Stones announced that they will take their upcoming
concerts at Twickenham Stadium on August 20 and 22, 2006. They also made their
first-ever performance in China on April 8, 2006. And after performing in
Wellington, New Zealand, on April 18, 2006, the Stones took a month break before
on board for the European Leg of their A Bigger Bang Tour. Richards, who was
vacationing in Fiji, fell from a coconut tree and was rushed to hospital to
undergo brain surgery on May 5, 2006 to relieve a blood clot. The A Bigger Bang
Tour is due to restart in Milan, Italy on July 11, 2006 with Richards now having
made a full recovery.
Richards will soon be seen on the big screen. He is lined up to have a cameo
role as the swashbuckling father of the flamboyant Captain Jack Sparrow (played
by Johnny Depp), in the third installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean
series. The Jerry Bruckheimer’s movie is due to resume filming next month in
- Grammy: Best Video Album, “Let's Spend the Night Together,” 1983; shared
with The Rolling Stones members.